The New York Times Bestselling Author Of A History Of The World In Objects Brings The World Of Shakespeare And The Tudor Era Of Elizabeth I Into Focus We Feel We Know Shakespeare S Characters Think Of Hamlet, Trapped In Indecision, Or Macbeth S Merciless And Ultimately Self Destructive Ambition, Or The Machiavellian Rise And Short Reign Of Richard III They Are So Vital, So Alive And Real That We Can See Aspects Of Ourselves In Them But Their World Was At Once Familiar And Nothing Like Our Own In This Brilliant Work Of Historical Reconstruction Neil MacGregor And His Team At The British Museum, Working Together In A Landmark Collaboration With The Royal Shakespeare Company And The BBC, Bring Us Twenty Objects That Capture The Essence Of Shakespeare S Universe A Perfect Complement To A History Of The World In Objects, MacGregor S Landmark New York Times Bestseller, Shakespeare S Restless World Highlights A Turning Point In Human History This Magnificent Book, Illustrated Throughout With Than One Hundred Vibrant Color Photographs, Invites You To Travel Back In History And To Touch, Smell, And Feel What Life Was Like At That Pivotal Moment, When Humankind Leaped Into The Modern Age This Was An Exhilarating Time When Discoveries In Science And Technology Altered The Parameters Of The Known World Sir Francis Drake S Circumnavigation Map Allows Us To Imagine The Age Of Exploration From The Point Of View Of One Of Its Most Ambitious Navigators A Bishop S Cup Captures The Most Sacred And Divisive Act In Christendom WithA History Of The World In Objects, MacGregor Pioneered A New Way Of Telling History Through Artifacts Now He Trains His Eye Closer To Home, On A Subject That Has Mesmerized Him Since Childhood, And Lets Us See Shakespeare And His World In A Whole New Light This book is both the most information, and the most fun, I have had all year I missed the BBC radio series on which it was based, so it was all new to me Basically, it takes 20 objects that were current in Shakespeare s time and place, from a fork dropped in the theatre, through plague proclamations, Henry V s armour and a model ship, to the hapless designs for a union flag commissioned by King James, and uses these objects to illuminate the plays All the way through, I was muttering why did I never think of that before Reading or seeing the plays in isolation from their context, one can easily forget that, for instance, Shakespeare was 16 when Francis Drake circumnavigated the world and that this had generated a fashion for maps and globes that makes the name of his most famous theatre seem a lot topical and relevant than we might have thought.The book is full of fascinating and useful information eg the price of admission to the theatre, one penny, which was the same as the price of admission to see Henry V s armour in Westminster Abbey And the fact that theatre performances and afternoon church services both began at 2pm, which explains a lot of church hostility to the theatre It is also, having been co produced by BBC Radio and the British Museum as well as the publisher, Allen Lane, full of fascinating and beautifully produced illustrations of the objects in question Strangely enough, I didn t find the human eye in a reliquary anywhere near as moving as Henry s battered, shabby shield or the fancy fork engraved with its careless owner s initials, A.N.Paradoxically, the firmness with which the book locates Shakespeare in his own time and place merely emphasises his universal, timeless relevance, with which the last chapter is rather movingly concerned This book is beautifully produced, lavishly illustrated the 20 objects are only the start of it but above all, the text is intelligent, thoughtful and penetrating, giving a genuinely novel and informative angle on the plays Let s never forget that it came about as a result of a radio series by one of the very few broadcasters that would have undertaken such a project The BBC is as much of a cultural asset to our time as Shakespeare was to his we d surely miss this kind of enterprise if we didn t have Auntie. image error The strange potency of things In this book, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, uses a variety of material objects to get under the intellectual skin of the world during Shakespeare s life time, and explores the ways in which the plays were deeply grounded in the politics, religion, culture and material world from which they sprang.This approach, in line with current academic thinking, implicitly moves us away from the popular idea of Shakespeare as being some kind of extraordinary, timeless spirit whose plays float, somehow, outside of history Instead, this focuses on the historicised cultural markers that made the plays as contemporary and current as Private Eye or Have I Got News are for us today.MacGregor isn t seeking to understand Shakespeare the man but to uncover some of the shared communal assumptions that Shakespeare s audiences carried with them into the Globe and other theatres This is a wonderfully generous and inclusive book, both erudite and yet accessible. There is nothing much to say The book is awesome It s written in a great way and I was completely immersed in the world Well, I m a Shakespeare real, so no winder I liked the book But it s very interesting and I learned things I didn t know about Elizabethan England through the everyday objects. I would imagine it s agonizingly difficult to choose twenty objects only from a time and place and highlight that era breathe life into the past, as it were That being said, and acknowledging the limitations MacGregor set for himself, this turned out to be quite an interesting little tryst with Shakespeare To be fair, this is representative of MacGregor s knowledge of the Shakespeare canon than it is of 17th century England quotidian activity While he provides an interesting analysis of many of the objects, there are far too many conjectures to suit the hungry historian in me I would have liked a clear cut distinction between his opinion and the evidence I found there were far too many would haves could haves scenarios In the end, they proved annoying and distracting.On my own wish list, I would have like it if the photography plates were better produced The sometimes blurred and indefinite reproductions detracted from the prose in the end, I felt myself rushing through it, just to get past the images, which were becoming bothersome.Having stated all my detractions, I think the BBC production would be a lot of fun to listen to without being distracted by all the little nits built into the book I will admit to being a Shakespeare aficionada, and have probably spent far too much time than is good for me perhaps poring over his literature, that this picture book had high standards set for it before it ever came into my hands and so for that I apologize to MacGregor for stepping in with pre conceived notions Still, a very worthwhile read I mean it It provides an interesting view of the 17th century that many would never have imagined. This book was so engaging I read it in one train ride and was pleasantly surprised to learn how 16th century England was perceived on a nationally as well as internationally This perception is analysed through important objects retained from that period. When we read Shakespeare in high school and college, this would have made a wonderful companion piece A better understanding of the era, would have made the plays come alive For example, this is what MacGregor has to say about measuring time p 218 Before 1600 the great majority of clocks had just a single hour hand, and the divisions of the hour were judged approximately so what now looks to us like a conventional clock was in 1598 as for Richard II cutting edge technology It would be another 50 years before minute hands became standard.Then he provides several examples from the plays that reference time As a first time reader of Shakespeare, that would have given me something to watch no pun intended for while reading.Similarly, I hadn t connected Shakespeare with the plague Apparently he was born during one outbreak and managed to survive several later ones During severe outbreaks, the king closed the theaters, making it difficult for those who wrote and acted to earn a living MacGregor points out that even though the plague was very much a part of every Londoner s life there s minimal reference to the plague in any plays from that time period Maybe Shakespeare and the other writers figured when people wanted to be entertained they didn t need to be reminded of their fears.These are 2 of the 20 topics objects addressed in this book Religion and politics obviously shaped the tone of the times, but I found the subtle aspects such as clocks, caps, and eating utensils to be the most intriguing. A revelationMacGregor s choice of clocks, mirrors and swords opens a door on to the lost world of London s theatregoers in and around 1600.The interrogation of these objects yields a sequence of fascinating footnotes to Shakespeare s timeless poetry Neil MacGregor is a world renowned museum director who transformed the British Museum since he took charge in 2002 He is the author of A History of the World in 100 Objects a New York Times bestseller He is the author of Germany, Memories of a Nation named Book of the Year by The Times Literary Supplement and a favorite book of mine.Example of twenty objects reproduced in MacGregor s work Hakluyt Principal Navigations 1599 Shakespeare s reference in Twelfth Night to the new map with the augmentation of the Indies.Francis Drake 1580 who is depicted with his hand on a globe to highlight his great feat.Portrait of David Kindt who was master of the Hamburg painters guild He painted himself with a watch, a new and valuable item In Twelfth Night, Malvolio fantasizes about being a rich watch owning gentleman.Plutarch s Lives, as translated by Thomas North in either the 1579 or 1595 editions, was probably Shakespeare s most important source for his Roman plays, especially Julius Caesar 1599.The so called First Folio London, 1623 was brought together by Shakespeare s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, Fellow alive. Neil MacGregor ist direktor des British Museum und wohl am bekanntesten f r seine Weltgeschichte in 100 Objekten Hier ist eine Version f r Shakespeare und seine Zeit in 20 Objekten.Das Konzept funktioniert dabei erstaunlich gut Ein Gegenstand wird mit Geschichte erf llt, indem er erkl rt wird Woher kam er, wozu wurde er genutzt, wo wurde er gefunden Diese Hintergrund wird dann mit passenden St cken von William Shakespeare verkn pft und in Zusammenhang gebracht Der Gegenstand hilft dabei immens, die Fakten im Hirn zu veranken.Wenn man also Elisabethanische Pop Culture lernen muss und Hintergrund f r Shakespeare Klausuren braucht, ist diese Reihe der perfekte Einstieg.Den Podcast kann man komplett und ohne L ndersperre auf der BBC Webseite herunterladen werden in jeweils 15 Minuten die Bereiche 1 ENGLAND GOES GLOBAL How Sir Francis Drake s circumnavigation of the globe changed the way Shakespeare s audiences viewed the world and their country s place on it For the first time, England was engaging with the whole world.2 COMMUNION AND CONSCIENCE The communion cup that Shakespeare may well have used sheds light on the dramatic religious changes that came in the aftermath of the Reformation3 SNACKING THROUGH SHAKESPEARE A luxury fork discovered on the site of the Rose theatre helps explain what people were nibbling on when they first heard Is this a dagger I see before me 4 LIFE WITHOUT ELIZABETH Painted in 1571 to justify and celebrate Elizabeth I s position in the Tudor succession, by the 1590s, with no direct Tudor heir, this image had very different implications.5 SWORDPLAY AND SWAGGER The essential accoutrements of any self respecting gentleman illustrate the extent of violence in Elizabethan London both onstage and off.6 EUROPE TRIUMPHS OF THE PAST As a tourist attraction in Westminster Abbey, Henry V s instruments of battle reflect the view of English history as depicted on the Elizabeth stage.7 IRELAND FAILURES IN THE PRESENT A rare woodcut offers a equally rare visual impression of the troubles and tragedies of Elizabethan Ireland.8 CITY LIFE, URBAN STRIFE The life of London s apprentices and Shakespeare s groundlings told through a rare woollen cap.9 NEW SCIENCE, OLD MAGIC Dr Dee s Mirror was actually a highly polished disk of black obsidian from Mexico but it reflects the Elizabethan fascination with the new sciences of cosmology and astrology.10 TOIL AND TROUBLE The differences between Scottish and English witches are revealed by a model ship, made to be hung in a church.11 TREASON PLOTS A tabloid history of Shakespeare s England, told through a collection of contemporary accounts of plots to murder Elizabeth I and James I.12 SEX THE CITY A delicate glass goblet reveals the twin seductions of Venice its sought after luxuries and its equally sought after lecherous women.13 FROM LONDON TO MARRAKECH Sunken gold from West Africa sheds light on the complex relationship Elizabethan England had with the Moors of the Mediterranean.14 DISGUISE DECEPTION Deception and religion, cross dressing and travelling salesmen are all unpacked via a pedlar s trunk.15 THE FLAG THAT FAILED The problems in uniting Scotland and England and in creating a Great Britain are encapsulated in a set of designs for a common flag.16 A TIME OF CHANGE, A CHANGE OF TIME A rare domestic clock with an equally rare minute hand and quarter hour chimes reveals the changing relationship Shakespeare s audiences had to time.17 PLAGUE THE PLAYHOUSE May 1603 saw not only a new king but the worst plague outbreak since the Black Death Its impact and reach is told through a series of early seventeenth century proclamations.18 LONDON BECOMES ROME A set of designs for the Coronation Procession of James I reveals the extent of classical knowledge amongst Shakespeare s audience.19 THE THEATRES OF CRUELTY A human eyeball in a silver setting provides a striking insight to the theatre of cruelty in Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain.20 SHAKESPEARE GOES GLOBAL The publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare s collected plays in 1623 began the process of turning an early modern playwright into a global phenomenon An annotated copy of the Collected Works of Shakespeare reveals the extent to which Shakespeare has inspired and influenced audiences across the globe and through the ages.
Neil MacGregor was born in Glasgow to two doctors, Alexander and Anna MacGregor At the age of nine, he first saw Salvador Dal s Christ of Saint John of the Cross, newly acquired by Glasgow s Kelvingrove Art Gallery, which had a profound effect on him and sparked his lifelong interest in art MacGregor was educated at Glasgow Academy and then read modern languages at New College, Oxford, where he
- 336 pages
- Shakespeares Restless World
- Neil MacGregor
- 03 July 2017 Neil MacGregor